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Multifloor college student housing

For Gen-Z, class-A apartment communities should be modeled after high-end student housing.

“If you live in student housing, you are essentially spending four years living at the Ritz Carlton,” Mike Procopio, CEO of The Procopio Companies, tells High-end student housing is overflowing with amenities, and students aren’t willing to give them up upon graduation. Procopio has found incredible success in the multifamily market by looking at student housing as inspiration for apartment communities that serve high-earning young professionals.

“Students live in unbelievable places with water slides, a lazy river, amenities at their fingertips and concierge service,” he adds. “Suddenly, you get out of college and have to move into a three-story walk up? Students are really unhappy with that lifestyle. As a strategy, we are taking our cues from student housing.”

The firm’s development strategy incorporates high-end amenities into accessible apartment communities. “One of mandates is to take those super high-end amenities and bring them down into workforce housing in secondary and tertiary cities. There we can deliver super high-end properties at a much more price-conscious budget,” says Procopio. “We have created an urban-type lifestyle out in the suburbs, and that has worked really well for us.”

Gen-Z is driving this trend. The generation is quickly becoming the core renter, and it is the demographic that Procopio is targeting in its developments. “We see that generation as rapidly as possible wanting to get back to that full-service lifestyle, and they are willing to pay almost anything for that experience,” he says. “We see that in a big way. It is changing the way that we design projects and underwrite projects, especially at the big schools in the Sunbelt and in the Midwest.”

Procopio has a project in Beverly, Massachusetts that is exemplary of this trend. “The average income in the project is $250,000 per year,” he says. “Those are people that could not only afford to buy a house. They could afford to buy a $1 million house, and they are choosing to rent. It is really wild. It is a cultural shift, and we see it across the board with a lot of projects.”

By leveraging this strategy, Procopio has scaled his company from a $3 million enterprise to more than $300 million. “Our growth has come from shifting from for-sale product to class-A rental product,” says Procopio. “We were able to take same resources that we were deploying on hyper-luxury condo homes into multifamily.”

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